I played baseball during my youth for seven years, and most of that time was spent as a catcher and first baseman. Some of you may not be aware that many catchers talk to batters during their at-bats in order to get in their heads and distract them from hitting the ball. It takes time to master this skill, but it can be fun and productive once you are comfortable doing it. Also, it is really interesting when the batter is someone the catcher knows personally, as there is much more personal information available that can be used as ammunition.
There is a story involving Yogi Berra, who was a well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series and as usual, Yogi was keeping up his mindless chatter with the Braves batters. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything but when the next pitch came, he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and crossing home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.”
As you well know, distractions come at us from all directions, even from within, and being a child of God does not keep this from happening. I read an article titled “From Distracted to Devoted” on DeepSpirituality.com that says “God desires devotion, not distraction…. Distractions are like weeds in our hearts that suffocate God’s Word. In order for our quiet time with God to be effective and fruitful, we need to deal with our distractions.” The following keys were given to help you become devoted rather than distracted when spending time with God:
- Find a Secluded Place – Jesus went to a secluded place so He could be undistracted as He prayed to God. It’s possible for us to do the same thing, even if we live in a heavily populated area. Do you have a location secluded from distractions to spend quiet time with God?
- Give Instead of Just Taking – Is the purpose of your quiet time to give your heart to God for Him to influence, move, and change? Or do you only take from Him – use Him to feel a certain emotion, get an intellectual insight, find a solution to an inconvenient dilemma, or to check off a religious duty?
- Deal with Thought Distractions – What are the thought distractions that impede your ability to hear God when reading and praying? How many of these thought distractions are focused on people, problems, and panic rather than God?
- Devoted Hearts are Honest Hearts – Do you go into your quiet times honest and vulnerable about hidden sins you’ve held onto? How do you think your honesty or dishonesty is affecting your devotion to God?
- True Devotion Leads to Loving Action – What personal change are you studying out in Scripture and asking God to help you make that will lead to loving others more deeply? Do you leave your quiet times with greater faith and determination to change the lives of others for the better?